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LETTER TO GOVERNOR HOGAN REGARDING CARE OF CARDIOVASCULAR PATIENTS IN MARYLAND DURING THE COVID-19 EPIDEMIC

Click here to read the letter in its entirety.

President's Message

July 2020

Protests, Diversity and Inclusion, and Advocacy

Dear Maryland ACC Colleagues,

Events of the past month have challenged all American organizations to consider what they can do to combat racism and improve social and health equity in America. ACC has responded with a joint statement with the Association of Black Cardiologists and the AHA to condemn racism, violence, and health inequality. It concludes:

Thus, we stand and link arms in solidarity with efforts to dismantle systems that maintain excess morbidity and mortality, especially among vulnerable populations and those historically oppressed. Indeed, our collective vast membership, many of whom are at the frontlines of clinical healthcare, has taken an oath to decisively and with kindness, compassion and grace act to relieve suffering related to “I can’t breathe” in order to preserve life.

ACC highlighted the issue of structural racism and healthcare disparities in medicine, as part of the Summer Covid-19 Education Series, in an outstanding session led by Dr. Clyde Yancy entitled “Healthcare Disparities and COVID-19: The Story Behind the Headlines.” Starting from the striking statistic that mortality from COVID-19 is twice as high for African Americans as for other racial and ethnic groups, expert panelists dissected the problem, causes, and solutions. In addition, the Association of Black Cardiologists produced a powerful webinar entitled “I Can’t Breathe” featuring 20 distinguished members (including current and former MDACC FITs) giving brief personal reflections on their experiences with racism in American life and medicine. Both are well worth our time and attention. As Dr. Yancy said in his introduction, “In medicine, we are all friends. Your friends are hurting.” We should all listen.

In light of current events, ACC will increase our important efforts in Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). Central to the College’s mission to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health, D&I will be a major focus of the ACC’s forthcoming capital campaign, the “Campaign for the Future”. The Campaign will help to fund:

      • Expanded leadership development programs for women and under-represented minorities
      • Creation of focused Fellowship and Scholarship programs
      • Diversity and inclusion faculty training programs
      • National and local student outreach programs

D&I, student outreach, and healthcare disparities will also feature prominently in MDACC’s upcoming Mid-Atlantic Capital Cardiovascular Symposium (MACCS) being held virtually in November this year due to continued COVID-related in-person meeting restrictions. 

In addition to planning MACCS, the MDACC has been busy with advocacy. In particular, a number of members have expressed concern regarding CareFirst BCBS’s telehealth policy, which falls far short of CMS example and guidance on this critical health and financial support for patients and practices during the COVID-19 epidemic. CareFirst does not provide any specialty coverage for audio-only telehealth visits. In addition, they have announced plans to roll back some other components of telehealth coverage, such as waiving co-pays, on July 24. As we all know and can see in the news, this policy makes no sense, as the novel coronavirus is likely to be with us in some form for many months, and many of our most vulnerable patients remain highly concerned about physically coming to healthcare facilities. MDACC Council members have been working with MedChi and ACC State Advocacy to bring this issue to CareFirst BCBS. In addition, several contributed to an important news story on this subject in the Baltimore Sun. If you have a personal experience with how CareFirst BCBS telehealth policy has adversely impacted patient care or your practice, please share it with us.

Ensuring adequate telehealth coverage, obtaining protection from unfair liability, promoting health equity, and fighting abusive prior authorization practices will be at the top of the ACC Advocacy agenda for the summer and fall heading into the annual ACC Legislative Conference. Being held in a novel, virtual format on October 4-6, 2020, “Leg Conference” will provide new opportunities for ACC members interested in advocacy to learn, connect with each other, and present our agenda to Members of Congress. Please save those dates as well.

I close with a message from MDACC immediate past CVTeam Liaison, Jae Patton, CRNP, AACC, who now sits on the HeartPAC Advisory Council:

Since my ringside seat for the ACC’s advocacy win allowing advanced practice providers to supervise cardiac rehab programs, I have been a proud member of the HeartPAC (formerly ACCPAC). The effort that went into this fight for patient access to care was one of the reasons I decided the College is in fact my professional home. And now, during this time of global pandemic, I have been humbled by the ACC advocacy team and their hard work on behalf of our profession and our patients. The ACC advocacy team has been at the table to ensure our voices are heard and our concerns are understood during this time of rapid change.   

Healthcare advocacy has never been more important. Help make our voices heard in Washington by giving to the HeartPAC.

Enjoy the summer and stay safe and well. As always, please send MDACC leadership and staff your comments, questions, and suggestions to president@marylandacc.org.

Sincerely,

Joseph E. Marine, MD, FACC


Updated INFORMATION FROM ACC

The ACC has pulled together COVID-19 information and resources and is updating it daily. Click here for the COVID-19 Hub

For the free Summer Education Series, click here

Coronavirus and Your Heart: Don't Ignore Heart Symptoms

ACC CardioSmart recently published the infographic below to emphasize the importance of maintaining heart health through the epidemic. Click here for additional information.

Heart Health during COVID-19 path


Your ACC Urges Accountability in Transition to Value-Based Care

Last week, your ACC, in conjunction with the Maryland ACC Chapter, submitted a letter to the Health Services Cost Review Commission regarding a request for information that was released on March 23. The letter focuses primarily on ensuring that participants are appropriately accountable for achieving clinically relevant cost and quality targets for the identified episodes. Your ACC is committed to working on other state-level efforts to promote and encourage the move to value-based care. If your state is currently working on any efforts for which you may need assistance, please contact   yrafiq@acc.org. More information on your ACC's work with alternative payment models (APMs) and the move to value-based care is available on the APM Hub

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